The Loss of the Dutch Populism
As everyone has noticed, the Dutch elections took place two weeks ago. The leading question before this election held place was if also the Netherlands were going to fall for the populism like we have seen in for example the Brexit and also the United States election, where no one expected Donald Trump was going to win. Prime-minister Mark Rutte called these elections the ‘quarterfinal’ of Europe. With these words, he aimed at the elections in Germany and France later this year. Before the election took place he assumed that the results in the Netherlands can be of great influence in the survival of the European Union. Also, he said that our elections can have influence on the results in the elections there later this year. Because this election is so important, there was a lot of attention from foreign countries. Still, the most of the attention was going to Geert Wilders, the leader of the PVV. With his controversial phrases, he leads the populism in the Netherlands. So every other country wanted to know if also the Netherlands would fall for the populism as well, or if they would choose for Europe.
In last year’s polls, Geert Wilders could count on a massive victory for his party. But when the elections came closer, the trust in Wilders began to fall. A few days before the elections the PVV still was one of the biggest parties according to the polls, together with the VVD. However, polls don’t have to mean anything to the results of the elections. As we have seen in the United Kingdom, the poll takers had excluded a departure from the European Union, but the opposite was true. The same thing happened in the United States. Europe went to bed with the thought that Hillary Clinton would be the next president, but woke up in a totally different world. Trump gained more voters than Clinton with his populistic shouting, and so he became the greatest.
On the day of the elections, it was quickly clear that the VVD would get the most votes, but the battle for the second place had only just begun, and wasn’t for sure at all. When the PVV fell in the last days before the elections, CDA and D66 gained extra voters. This battle lasted until the final minutes. Eventually the PVV got in second, with 20 chairs, and the CDA and D66 shared the third place with 19 chairs. Thereby, you could state that that the populism in the Netherlands was defeated. however, with 15% of all votes they still occupy a quite big part of the parliament. According to some people 2 new populist parties were electable. DENK and FvD got respectively 3 and 2 chairs in the parliament. FvD has a lot in common with the PVV, but their opinion is formulated more tactical. This is probably another reason why PVV got less votes than the exit polls predicted.
The question is whether this trend will continue in the French and German elections. Last week, a French poll was made by France Télèvisions, and it shows that the populist party of Marine le Pen isn’t the greatest anymore according to the newest polls. This isn’t a direct causality of the Dutch elections, but it is definitely possible that they play a part in it. In Germany, it seems that the people are done with Chancellor Angela Merkel, but the social democratic party is rising. This party also stands for a stronger Europe, so it doesn’t seem that a populist party will become the biggest in Germany.
Of course, we still have to wait for the results of those two upcoming elections, but the populism has made a weak start by losing the ‘quarterfinal’ in the Netherlands.